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   Mon, April 26, 2004



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New Japan challenges the WWE
By JOHN POWELL - Co-producer, SLAM! Wrestling




Over the weekend, New Japan Wrestling owner and grappling legend Antonio Inoki laid down a challenge to the WWE and fired back at disparaging comments made by WWE Executive Vice President Jim Ross.

According to the 'Strong Style Spirit' site (www.puroresufan.com), Inoki stated at the "Strong Energy 2004" show on Saturday that New Japan is not afraid to take on the WWE and that the American promotion has "lapsed into a state of depression".

Inoki said that the WWE should not be leading the wrestling industry and New Japan will soon take that spot away from them. Inoki has instructed New Japan staff to contact such former WWE stars as Steve Austin and Brock Lesnar to achieve that goal.

On the WWE's Byte This! webcast last week, Jim Ross ripped the Japanese wrestling industry and its tactics.

"They're desperate. The Japanese pro wrestling is sucking pond water. It's not drawing. Goldberg went there. He did not draw...maybe once or twice, Ross said.

Since that time, Ross' statements have been deemed as "ignorant" by those who follow and report on the Japanese wrestling scene.

The comments came just one day after the WWE announced that they would be holding two Smackdown! house shows in Tokyo, Japan, in July.